Urban geology: the Boxtel wall game

The Netherlands is a land of museums, approximately 1,200 of them in a country the size of southeast England. Although the major cities have an ample supply – about 30 in Amsterdam, for example – there are many and varied museums dotted throughout the country. (I remember, in 2003, being driven to Arnhem and seeing a German Panther tank parked outside a small military museum – be ready for the unexpected.) For the geologist, one of the gems is Het Oertijdmuseum (= The Prehistoric Times Museum; formerly De Groene Poort) in Boxtel, in the province of Noord Brabant, north-north-west of Eindhoven. As may be deduced from Fig. 1, the museum has a specialist collection of dinosaurs and other saurian – replicas in the gardens around the main building and mounted skeletons inside.

I am a walker and I prefer to saunter from the station through the attractive town of Boxtel to Het Oertijdmuseum rather than take a bus. The walk is a long 30 minutes. As you near the museum, the route passes a most extraordinary building, Bosscheweg 107, ‘Den Daalder’. This appears to be an entirely conventional office block until you reach the end closest to the museum, when all is revealed – an artificial slope of rocks almost half the height of the building (Fig. 2A). This is a wall game (Robinson, 1996; Donovan, 2017) on a grand scale.

The slope itself has an appearance like a scree slope on the side of a hill or face of a quarry, but the similarity is no more than superficial. A scree slope in nature will likely be composed of only one or a few rock lithologies; the clasts will be angular; and there will be sorting under the influence of gravity and surface run-off of rain. At ‘Den Daalder’, there is a diversity of rock types, certainly more than figured in this article (Fig. 2B-F); clasts are commonly more or less rounded; and no sorting is apparent, cobbles maintaining a broadly uniform size range throughout. The rounding of clasts indicates that they were collected from the bed(s) of a river or rivers.


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